Aurora’s ‘Music Man’ has timeless message
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media January 10, 2013 4:14PM
‘The Music Man’
♦ Jan. 16-Feb. 3
♦ Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora
♦ Tickets, $34.90-$46.90
♦ (630) 896-6666
Updated: January 11, 2013 1:41PM
Even though Meredith Willson wrote “The Music Man” in the late 1950s, Rachel Rockwell, who is directing the musical at the Paramount Theatre, thinks that the show’s message is as valid today as it was when the play was written.
“I think it is very pertinent,” Rockwell said. “Art in a small town is a critical component of emotional health. You can’t underestimate the importance of music and music education in a community.
“The Music Man” will be presented from Jan. 16 to Feb. 3 at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora.
“It’s a beautifully written show,” Rockwell continued. “It has a great message of how important the arts are to people’s lives, to their health and to the community.”
In “The Music Man,” con man Harold Hill poses as a band organizer and sells band instruments and uniforms to naive townsfolk before skipping town with the money. In River City, Iowa, librarian and piano teacher Marian Paroo sees through him, but when Hill helps her younger brother overcome his fear of social interactions, Marian begins to fall in love with Hill. Hill, in turn, falls for Marian, and risks having his scheme exposed to win her heart. Along the way, Hill enriches the town with a love of music.
“The Music Man,” with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, is based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The musical features such memorable songs as “(Ya Got) Trouble”; “Gray, Indiana”; “Seventy-six Trombones”; and “Till There Was You.”
The original Broadway production ran for 1,375 performances and won six Tony Awards, including the 1958 Tony Award for Best Musical. The show also had two revivals on Broadway, in 1980 and in 2000.
The popular film version was released in 1962 and starred Robert Preston as Harold Hill (reprising his Broadway role) and Shirley Jones as Marian Paroo.
“If you’ve seen it before, you love it,” Rockwell said. “If you have not seen it, it is one of the classic musicals. I think it is one of the few perfectly-written musical pieces that exists. It is a beautiful story and the score is amazing. It is a piece that is about the Midwest, so that also resonates with people.”
Rockwell also believes people will identify with the parents and children in the show regarding the formation of the band and how the parents react to it.
“As a parent, I can relate to that,” she said. “There is a certain pride that people feel in their children. In the show, everyone’s life is changed because of it.”
Rockwell, who directed last season’s “Hair” and this season’s “Annie,” two of the Broadway Series shows that the Paramount Theatre has presented, is extremely pleased to be directing another Paramount Broadway Series musical.
“It is miraculous work that the Paramount is doing now,” she said, referring to the Paramount Theatre’s Broadway Series. “It is so great to have a place to do this kind of work. The audiences are seeing really talented local people on stage in Aurora.”